Monday, July 27, 2009

Nice Surprises


It's a rainy Monday in my neck of the woods, cooling things down, and bringing much needed moisture to the area. We're coming off of a busy weekend, and I hope you all made a little time to connect with your spouse.

Today's post is short because Hubby and I decided over the weekend to do one nice, surprise thing for each other every day this week. Well, how can it be a surprise if you know it's coming? you may ask.

For us the surprise is WHAT he/I will do, not THAT we're doing it.

It serves the dual purpose of giving each of us something to look forward to, and getting us both in a lovey-dovey, what-can-I-do-for-him/her frame of mind.

So, on that note, I am off to plan my surprises for my hubby. I'm sure they'll be simple gestures meant to show I care. And I wish I could share, but just in case Hubby is reading the blog today, he'll just have to wait until he gets home to find out what his surprise is.

Have a great week, and feel free to share any nice surprises you have for your significant other.


Monday, July 20, 2009

It's All About Timing

Hey, y'all.

I really wish I had something new and/or exciting to dazzle you with on the blog today, but truth be told, I'm beat.

It's been non-stop crazy at our house for the last week, and there has been zilch going on in the romance department.

Not to say we haven't talked about it.

And not to say we haven't tried to make plans.

But that meddlesome thing called life keeps getting in the way, and is preventing us from blasting into a romantic frame of mind.

So there have been no love notes; no romantic dinners; no music, flowers, or candlelight.

But there is still hope. Like Myra's post said last week, marriages go through phases. There are seasons in life, and in romance.

Summertime, three young kids at home, and wacky hours have thrown off our routines, but we'll get them back soon enough. And then we can figure out how to get our romantic life back on course.

So if you aren't feeling the passion and excitement in your marriage you once did, don't give up. Keep talking about it, keep making plans, and be sure you're both on the same page, because when the timing is right, and all the stars in the heavens align, or whatever it takes to make the moment happen, it'll be nice to know what you both need romantically.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Your Romance in Rhythm

I recently read a very thought-provoking book entitled Your Life in Rhythm, by Bruce Miller. Miller theorizes that the balance paradigm--trying to give equal time and energy to all the various aspects of our lives--is a recipe for disappointment and unnecessary stress.

Instead, he advocates paying attention to the natural rhythms of life and then learning to live within those rhythms. Look deeper and it’s easy to see the rhythm patterns in the everyday (waking up in the morning, mealtimes, your work routine, end-of-the-day rituals, bedtime), in the flow of a typical week (workdays, weekends), in the change of seasons through the year, in the life stages we all go through from birth to death.

The stages of a romance also have a certain rhythm: meeting, courtship, deepening love, marriage, starting a family, comfortable familiarity--and probably several phases of cycling between romance and disillusionment through the years. I believe one of the keys to a lasting marriage is recognizing the seasons, or rhythms, of romance and making the most of each one.

If you’re newlyweds, relish the passion, but don’t expect to keep up that intensity for the rest of your lives. If you’re new parents, you’ve entered a season of marriage with demands on your time you may not have been fully prepared for. But the children grow up--through a whole bunch of crazy and challenging seasons of their own!--and one day you find yourselves empty-nesters . . . and possibly wondering, Who is this stranger I’m married to?

Since these marriage rhythms are predictable, it makes sense to plan for them instead of chafing against them. What “season” of marriage are you experiencing right now? What pitfalls have you identified? What do you enjoy most about this season? Are there any expectations you need to release to live in this season more fully?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” --Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

Monday, July 13, 2009


If you haven't figured it out by now, I am a list maker.

I like lists. Grocery lists, To Do lists, Honey-Do lists, Packing For Vacation lists . . . I really could go on forever.

And I'm sure you've noticed my lists of favorites on this blog.

So my ears just perked right up when our church sermon yesterday was about making a Bucket List. The sermon was about how should we spend the precious, limited time we have on this earth? How will our time here be remembered? And how does God feel about what we do with the time He has given us?

My husband and I have made lists similar to a Bucket List over the years, only we didn't call them that. We just called them Goals. What do I want to do today? This week? This month? Three months? Six months? A year? Five years? Ten? Twenty?

You get the picture.

My husband recently updated his Goals list and allowed me to read it. So now it's my turn to make a Goals list, but I think I will also do so with the Bucket List in mind.

And I will be sharing my list with my husband as soon as it is written. And maybe we can help each other accomplish everything on our lists.

What about you? Do you have a Goals/Bucket List? Maybe this week you and your spouse can sit down together and write one. It might just bring you closer together, and you may even find out something you didn't know about your sweetie.

Have a great week, everyone.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just The Two of Us

Doesn't happen very often in this generational living we are taking part in, but once in a while, we do get a chance to have some time to ourselves. One of those times is coming up in a few weeks. Our daughter and her husband and the girls are going to Colorado for a week with the youth group at our church. They are really looking forward to it and I have to admit, Dan and I are looking forward to having the house to ourselves for that time.

Last time the kids went off, we had to change our plans because we were needed by another family member out of town. And while we know that the best laid plans can go haywire at the last minute, we're hopeful this time will workout. I'm thinking of the meals I can cook that Dan and I love, but not all of our family does. We'll go out to a favorite restaurant or two and maybe take a day trip or two for some research. Mostly, it will be nice to just go at our own pace for a few days and do our own thing, without working around all that goes on around here.

Oh, yes, we love the generational living. But we're looking forward to spending some quality time together, going and doing some of the things we enjoy that sometimes get pushed back or to the side, because we have so many other things going on. A week to just be together. What could be more romantic?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

She is a She & MoneyTalk

We had our first ultrasound yesterday and found out the baby is a girl! Here is a scan of one of the pics:

(That's a profile shot of her head/face and torso)

I know the results of an ultrasound aren't 100% foolproof, plus we're hoping to have at least 1 or 2 more kids after this one (God willing), so we're going to get a lot of the baby stuff in neutral colors. Right now the baby's room is painted a pale green, and I think we're going to leave it that color for now.

But I have already starting thinking about decorating...

Which is a great segue into talking about money, because hubby and I are also talking about redoing one or two of our bathrooms this summer. They're pretty out-of-style right now with not-great wallpaper and the tiles in the tub/shower need to be redone.

I know money is one of the things that a lot of couples fight about, but we've been blessed that this hasn't been a major area of disputes in our marriage.

We both have a financial background with our educations and jobs, but I really don't think that's why we've gotten along so well in this area since we've been married. The things that have really helped us are:

1) Set goals together (i.e. pay off student loans by this date, buy a house by this date) - we usually sit down together at least once per year and discuss what we want to achieve for the next 1-2 years

2) Make a realistic plan to meet the goals - we did this by making a realistic budget that we can both live with. The most important things for us when making our budgets were realizing that there were things that were important to one of us that wasn't really important to the other. For example, the people at my office eat out for lunch a lot and it is sort of a social activity for our workplace. Luke's workplace is a lot different and he brings his lunch a lot of the time or goes home for lunch. So my budgeted "spending money" is a little bit higher to take into account the reality that I'm probably going to eat out with the office on a regular basis.

I feel that making the budget together and agreeing on final amounts keeps us from thinking that the budget is unfair to one partner vs. the other. And it really brings home the bottom line. If I go over budget because I went shopping last weekend, I kNOW that the money has to come from somewhere,and I can see very easily where it comes from.

3) Spending less than we make - We don't live above our means. When we were still in school, we lived in a 600 sq foot apartment. It was TINY! But since we were paying for school ourselves, it was about all we could afford. We didn't go shopping every weekend or get to buy everything that we saw that we wanted. We just couldn't afford it.

4) Not carrying a balance on our credit cards - We use these for work-related expenses (that we'll be reimbursed for later), or to buy plane tickets or large-dollar items online/over the phone. We don't carry balances because we've both seen how that can build up so easily and then bury you (both had experiences like that before we got married). See number 3 if you need more clarification on this point.

5) Splurging - I don't mean all the time. In fact, very rarely did this happen, BUT one thing that is important to make our budget work is to splurge and spend money on things that are special to us. For a long time it was trips to see Luke's family (when they lived on the East Coast). Christmas is a big one - I love giving gifts to my family and to Luke. And this Christmas will be really fun with our DAUGHTER! Sometimes, just something that we wanted that we'd been saving a long time for. Like a new car stereo for Luke that he'd saved up for for months. I fully believe that there should be a reward for sticking to your budget (especially since it can be so hard at times).

6) Giving to our church - this has been really important to us since the beginning of our marriage. By making sure to give sacrificially, and making that an item on our budget, it keeps it at the forefront of our minds just Who our financial blessings come from. And knowing that Luke is just as committed to this as I am brings us closer together. Not to mention seeing some of the amazing things that God has been able to do through the use of our (and others') gifts back to Him.

Not to say that we never fight about money, because we do. But these six things have helped us to see where the money comes from/goes to, and also to stay on the same page about our goals and how we can realistically achieve them.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Mercy Date

Hello everyone.

I'm sorry if this post is somewhat incoherent, but I am soooo tired coming off the holiday weekend, I can't even think straight.

But the best thing happened this weekend . . . Hubby and I got to go on a real DATE!!!


I couldn't believe it.

We were granted what I like to call a Mercy Date. Here's the scenario: You go to visit family or friends for a few days. You go, go, go for a couple of days until the kids are sacked out on the couch, barely able to keep their eyes open to watch a movie, and you and your spouse look like something the cat hocked-up in the yard.

Then someone you're staying with says the magic words, "Hey, why don't you two go grab dinner alone and I'll watch the kids for a couple of hours."


You run out the door, keys in hand, laughing like loons as you start the car and lay down rubber driving away.

Well, in our case, we actually had a thirty minute window to shower and change before we left the house. I even talked my mom into giving us extra time to watch a movie, too.

So, Rule Number One of a Mercy Date: Go with What You Know.

Don't waste precious time trying to decide what restaurant to go to or which movie to see. Do you want to try something different? Didn't someone tell you about a new restaurant that was supposed to be fabulous? Which movie should you see? No, no, no. Don't fall for that. Go with your favorite eatery in the area, and a show or other activity you know you both like.

For us, the restaurant was a great Chinese food place with low prices and HUGE amounts of food. And Hubby was content to watch a romantic comedy with me (of course, what else would I choose?). And if you want to get adventurous in the restaurant, do so sparingly. We got appetizers we love, and then I went with my standard Chicken Chow Mein, while Hubby tried a new dish, Mongolian Beef. It was a little spicy, but had great flavor, and we both really enjoyed it.

Which leads me to Rule Number Two: Take Your Time.

This is a golden opportunity, so don't rush through it or waste it. This was very hard for us. When you've got three kids going in three different directions most of the time, the luxury of slowing down to enjoy your surroundings, your spouse, or even a simple meal can be taken for granted.

When Hubby and I got our appetizers, we ploughed through them like the waitress was going to take them away if we didn't eat fast enough. It's just a symptom of eating as fast as we can when the kids are around because if we don't, we don't usually get to eat.

So we had to remind each other, repeatedly, to slow down and savor the meal. And when we did, it was wonderful. We had a chance to taste the food and talk in a normal voice . . . no griping at kids to sit still or be quiet, and we could actually hear each other. We didn't have to guess at what we thought the other said.

And my final Rule of a Mercy Date: Be Sure to Thank Your Sitters.

We finished at the restaurant, went to see a really funny romantic comedy (The Proposal), and took our time on the drive home. When we got back, we said "THANK YOU" about a thousand times, and I think my mother was tired of getting spontaneous hugs every time I passed her in the hall.

But it was such a fabulous time, and we were so thankful for the opportunity to be together. So thank them, and let them know how much their gift of a few hours meant to you.

I hope you all have a great week.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hot Springs

One way you can romance your spouse is to make sure you take time away from home for yourselves, even if it is for a weekend. My husband and I right now are in Hot Springs at a Bed and Breakfast (a Victorican house that is 120 years old) for a few days. It's nice to just get out of town and put everything on hold--concentrate on your relationship and each other. What kind of getaways are you planning?